Snaring the right technical co-founder
Having a great idea is the launchpad for most entrepreneurs, but success is defined by how you develop that idea using your skills and experience, and the expertise of others.
Jasmin Walker’s start-up story initially contained none of these crucial elements.
Based in Perth, Walker is the founder of Loumii, an event marketplace app that aims to simplify the process of event planning. Before Loumii, Walker had absolutely no technical know-how.
“Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked in journalism and PR and late last year I decided I wanted to get into the tech space,” Walker says.
“I saw a big, gaping hole in the events industry and decided to work at creating an event marketplace app… [However,] I had no money and no tech experience.”
Walker put all her energy into finding people who could help her design and build her app, but underestimated the enormity of this task, particularly in Perth.
“I, like so many non-tech people, was looking for the ideal – an amazing tech co-founder who was just waiting for me and who was happy to take an equity stake,” Walker says.
“I applied for [and was rejected by] Pollenizer and Startmate, and started going along to networking groups here in Perth in the hope of getting advice from people.”
“The tech start-up scene in Perth is really small. I went along to a meet-up group – it was just me and a bunch of guys who questioned the idea I had,” she says.
Walker realised her idea lacked clarity, with no real concept as to how it would work.
“Understandably, people weren’t going to take me seriously unless I had something more than just an idea swimming around in my head,” she says.
“I knew I needed to do something using the skills I already had to show I was serious and to show there was interest in what I was trying to achieve.”
It was this realisation that set in motion the idea for a Valentine’s Day campaign, which would serve as proof-of-concept for Loumii.
“About a week before Christmas, I came up with the idea of creating a very simple web app and launching a PR campaign to help people plan their Valentine’s Day,” Walker says.
“It was a simple idea – people head to Loumii.com, put in their name, email and location, and we’d send them suggested ideas for things like flowers [and] restaurants.”
After coming up with this concept, Walker called on a developer to help her make it a reality.
“I met developer Jay Whiting at a Hive event and he offered his help to build the application,” she says.
“A friend, Chris Cacioppe, did the design work and I contacted photographer Bri Hammond, who I’d spotted on Flickr.”
“We didn’t have much time to put it all together, and it was difficult because Jay and Chris had full-time jobs, and Jay also works on his own start-up.”
Walker approached WA news site PerthNow with the story, which was published on February 2, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“We had close to 2,000 unique visitors during the first three days of the campaign. Roughly 20% of those used Loumii to plan their Valentine’s Day,” she says.
“We got some really fantastic feedback from the campaign and I think it’s an example that anything can be done, even if you have not a cent and are lacking in certain skills.”
Walker and her team are now in the process of designing and building a fully-fledged version of the app and aim to complete it within three or four months.
“We’re working on [revenue targets] at the moment,” she says.
“That Valentine’s Day campaign was not about making any money – it was about [measuring] what kind of interest was out there...It’s been an awesome learning curve.”
“Just because you don’t have the skills or the experience or the money, don’t be afraid to jump in there and do something.”